Amazing & Alluring ADELAIDE!
Story by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet
Who finds wine, guns, gourmet food, and more in South Australia’s gourmet capital….
MY ‘Gourmet Living’ group of food and wine lovers were in jolly spirits as our SIA Boeing 777-200 flew ‘down under’ to Adelaide. As the plane banked to land, I looked out over the starboard wing to see red roofed houses and the Tasman Sea stretched out like a bikini clad girl sunbathing. It was early morning when we boarded our deluxe aircon coach to go on a city tour. We glimpsed North Terrace, St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Adelaide Oval Cricket ground, passed by the River Torrens and drove to Montefiore Hill. Colonel Light’s Lookout is here from where we admired his statue and the spectacular views of the city in the bright sunshine. Colonel Light, the founder and planner of Adelaide was actually born in Malaya as the illegitimate son of Captain Francis Light, the founder of Penang! Our next stop was the summit of Mount Lofty in the Cleland Conservation Park. At 710.1m above sea level we marvelled at the impressive white Obelisk built in 1885 as a trigonometric survey station. The fresh mountain air was invigorating as we feasted our eyes on the breathtaking views followed by some souvenir shopping in the gift shop. To the west I could even see the Grand Hotel on the coast at Glenelg. With rumbly tummies we speeded through the mountains past Jacaranda and Eucalyptus trees to historic Hahndorf for ‘Tucker’, (Australian for lunch).
This fascinating hamlet established in 1839 was named after Danish ship’s Captain Dirk Hahn. He brought 188 Lutheran migrants from Prussia in Germany fleeing religious persecution. The amusing literal translation of the name is ‘Rooster Village’. It is also Australia’s oldest non-English migrant settlement. Here, we tucked into an ‘all you can eat’ buffet at the Hahndorf Old Mill. There was German Bratwurst with Pommery (whole grain) mustard plus Sauerkraut, salads, broccoli, chicken, Barramundi fish, sweet & sour pork ribs, tandoori chicken and lots more. With full tum tums we then made a lightning visit to the famous Beerenberg Strawberry Farm whose jams are supplied to 5 star hotels all over the world. We had fun scrutinizing the giant jam making cauldrons at the back of the gift shop, strawberry fields and snapped up lots of jams, pickles & freshly picked strawberries. Their strawberries are only picked when ripe. I even got German style Hahndorf Mettwurst!
From the farm we went to visit Melba’s Chocolate Factory to see how chocolate is made the old fashioned way. It was a chocolate spree as we grabbed loads of chocolates like Licorice, Chocolate covered apricots, almonds, macadamias and much more. We returned to Hahndorf to take more time to appreciate the living history of this picturesque hamlet. Strolling around, I noted the traditional “Fachwerk” architecture of the old buildings. I saw too St. Michael’s Church, which is the oldest Lutheran church in Australia. Intriguing Hahndorf Academy impressed me with its Heritage Museum, fine art gallery and interpretive center. I stopped off at the 144 year old Hahndorf Inn, and then enjoyed a Caffe Latte at a quaint tea shop while birds sang joyfully outside.
For dinner we enjoyed typical Cantonese cuisine like Crispy Skin Roast Chicken in Ding Hao restaurant on Gouger Street cooked by a Chef from Guangzhou.
Cruises & Cockles
Early next morning, the air was crisp and clean when I went jogging and exercising at the Park just opposite our hotel, followed by an invigorating swim. Quite a few of our group like Christina, Kit Fan & Swee Har also started each day with their Taiji exercises in the park. After an American buffet breakfast which included lamb chops, we headed south past Unley to the magnificent Gulf of St.Vincent. We met Captain Bain and boarded the “Spirit II” boat at the mouth of the Murray River on Hindmarsh Island. Then it was anchors aweigh as we set sail on a cruise of the Coorong National Park & Mundoo Channel. On the way, we ate a packed lunch of bread, beef, ham and salami with tomato, zucchini and beetroot salad. Graceful Australian Pelicans and Cormorants were everywhere as we sailed in to land at Godfrey’s Landing on the remote Young Husband Peninsula. We trekked along the path past Sea Sedge plants, Native Currants and Coast Wattle and arrived at a magnificent beach. There was 150km of pristine beach because this is the largest cockling area in the Southern Hemisphere! The sky was a stunning aquamarine blue and there was not a cloud in the sky. Barefoot, I dug enthusiastically in the sand and harvested lots of cockles. Opening them with my Swiss Army knife, I ate them raw. Sweet, tender with the texture of ‘al dente’ Orecchiette pasta, they were absolutely fabulous! Sometimes the simplest food tastes best. The Ngarrindjeri Aborigines that lived here used to eat them everyday. Pretty pink & baby blue shells plus furry brown seaweed balls were everywhere. It was amazing to feel the fine salt spray on your face and the powerful sea breeze ruffling your hair, while graceful sea gulls skimmed the surface of the waves. On the way back to Adelaide the time flew as Alan, our bearded ‘Aussie’ Coach Captain cracked bawdy jokes. Our Thai dinner was at Mekong Thai restaurant on Hindley Street and we were impressed with the huge portions. I got the Thai Chef to put all the cockles I had harvested in our spicy Tom Yam Goong soup!
Put a BANG in your life!
After fabulous food and sightseeing, I brought the more daring members of our Gourmet Group for some SHOOTING! My good friend, affable Major Marks of the high tech Marksman Shooting Range gave them a Basic Handgun safety and training session. Then it was off to the Firing Range to be issued with pistols, ammo and ear defenders. Lesa, Francis, Cheung Wei, Christina, Joyce, Ebon and many others enjoyed themselves tremendously blasting away at targets with Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolvers, Glock 17 autoloaders and Ruger P85 9mm pistols! Loud explosions and the acrid smell of gunsmoke filled the air. It was the first time they had fired real guns. I used my favourite Heckler & Koch USP Standard 9mm autoloader firing at targets under low light conditions. All my rounds hit the bullseye in a tight group. The H & K USP is used by the US Special Forces and fires bullets at over 360m/s.
Captivating Chateau Yaldara
It was a cool, bright morning when we drove to the rugged Adelaide Hills and Torrens Gorge up to 2500 feet above sea level before reaching the Barossa Valley Reservoir. Here in the tranquil ‘bush’ (forest) at the “Whispering Wall” we whispered to each other from both sides of the gigantic reservoir….to hear our messages echoing eerily back and forth! From here we were off to taste wines!
I had arranged for a special VIP visit to Chateau Yaldara Winery in Lyndoch. We arrived to a warm welcome from my friend, jovial James Evers, the Senior Winemaker and we promptly set off to tour the Winery which looks like a French Chateau. James explained enthusiastically, “We harvest up to 15 tons of fruit per year for our wines and we use about 10 tons. A quarter of production are white wines and ¾ are reds.” Our ‘Gourmet Living’ wine lovers were fascinated to see the red wine Fermenters, shiny Stainless Steel tanks and high tech Pneumatic Presses.
“We harvest in February to March and April…I always say good wine is won or lost in the first couple of weeks of harvest. Housekeeping and cleanliness is 70% of winemaking. Fruit aromas are very volatile so whites need very delicate treatment.” James continued.
We learned how the grapes are gently pressed to extract the juice for as long as 2 hours, and how Rose wines are given 36 hours of skin contact to get the perfect colour. In Herman Thum’s Private Wine Tasting Cellar, we tasted:
1. Sauvignon Blanc 2007 with capsicum and green vegetable notes.
2. Pinot Grigio 2007 with pear, passion fruit and flint elements.
3. * Chardonnay 2007 which had not been released on the market.
4. Rose 2007 full of confectionary notes like strawberry lolly ice cream.
5. Tempus Two Botrytis Semillon dessert wine with apricot, citrus and marmalade nuances.
6. Shiraz Viognier Langhorne Creek 2006 aged 12 months in French & US oak with bacon notes.
7. *Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Yaldara which had not been released on the market.
8. *Yaldara Barossa Valley Shiraz 2006 which had only been bottled for 7 days and had not been released on the market. Lovely chocolate and black fruit flavours.
9. * Handmade McGuigan Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2006 only bottled for 7 days and not out on the market yet. Good concentration and complexity with black olive, plum and cassis.
10. Farms Shiraz 2004 with bewitching blackberry, pepper and spice.
11. Tawny Port Brian McGuigan Personal Reserve 15 years old with a caramel nose and a hot, spicy finish.
Our happy wine tasters were in a very merry mood at the end of the special VIP wine tasting with big smiles all around. We were very privileged to taste FOUR wines that had not been released on the market.
We also visited Cleland Wildlife Park to get up close and personal with cuddly Koalas, wobbly Wombats and playful Kangaroos. There was a whole day free for shopping at Adelaide’s famous Rundle Mall and Central Market where you can even buy tenderloin of Kangaroo. Do subscribe to ‘Gourmet Living’ to keep updated, and please join us on our next Gourmet Adventure to exotic locales. Remember my motto: Have chopsticks, will travel! J